Premier League • England

Curious Chelsea reunion touted as Newcastle get competition for star who cost €80m

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga

Newcastle won’t have a deal for Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga all their own way after a report revealed a shock reunion could be on the cards.

Kepa, 27, became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper upon signing from Athletic Bilbao in 2018. Kepa set Chelsea back €80m (£71.6m), though it’s fair to say he has not lived up to the fee.

The Spaniard infamously refused to leave the field when Maurizio Sarri ordered a substitution in the 2019 League Cup final. Kepa won the battle with his manager, but Chelsea lost out in the end, losing the penalty shoot-out to Man City.

The arrival of Edouard Mendy then bumped Kepa down to second choice. That ensured the cup competitions were his only respite, though the League Cup final once again came back to haunt him.

Kepa was brought on to replace Mendy ahead of the shoot-out against Liverpool this season. The stopper was unable to save any of Liverpool’s 11 penalties before blazing the decisive kick over the bar himself.

Regardless, links with Newcastle have been widespread as the Magpies look to flex their new muscles in the summer and beyond.

However, per Sport Witness, Newcastle could now face competition from Lazio.

Sarri unfazed by Kepa debacle

That comes as something of a surprise given they are managed by the man Kepa refused to obey at Wembley – Maurizio Sarri.

Nevertheless, Sarri would reportedly ‘gladly resume’ his relationship with Kepa with his opinion of the goalkeeper seemingly not diminished.

It’s noted a Lazio move would encounter two rather predictable problems.

Firstly, they are unable to afford the type of fee Chelsea would command for a permanent sale. While Chelsea would not seek the £71.6m they paid, they are unlikely to sell on the cheap.

Secondly, Kepa’s high salary is a problem. As such, the report claims the only ‘viable option’ for Lazio would be a loan deal. Though even that would require Chelsea to pay a significant chunk of the salary.

Chelsea are unable to sanction player arrivals or exits at present. Though that situation should be resolved once the club’s takeover is completed.

The Daily Star previously reported Chelsea will push to rid their books of Kepa this summer. While a Lazio move would only be temporary, it would allow Kepa to rebuild his reputation and make a permanent sale 12 months later more attractive for any interested parties.

Of course, Newcastle could simply open the chequebook and pay what Chelsea demand. Though one pundit has claimed Kepa might not be a better option than Martin Dubravka anyway.